2017 Region Outlooks: 3A DI Region II — With Mineola rebuilding, will a new power rise?
AS WE LOOK AHEAD TO THE 2017 TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SEASON, DCTF'S BRADY KEANE TAKES A LOOK AT HOW EACH REGION SHOULD SHAKE OUT WHEN FALL ROLLS AROUND.
The 2017 Texas high school football season will be here before you know it, and in a year without UIL realignment, we have a grasp on who should challenge for region — and state — titles across the state. We’ll take a closer look at the frontrunners in each region throughout the spring doldrums.
Class 6A: Region I / Region II / Region III / Region IV
Class 5A: Region I / Region II / Region III / Region IV
Class 4A DI: Region I / Region II / Region III / Region IV
Class 4A DII: Region I / Region II / Region III / Region IV
Class 3A DI: Region I
Today’s spotlight: Class 3A DI Region II
When it comes to Region II, Mineola has been the right at the top for each of the last three seasons under coach Joe Drennon. But after winning the program’s first-ever state championship last year, Drennon left to take the job at Class 5A Hallsville.
Drennon’s departure and the loss of several top players in Mineola will shake things up this season. And Pottsboro, which has been a force to be reckoned with for the last few years, will be largely inexperienced this season after reaching the regional championship. The door appears to be open for a new regional champion for the first time since 2013.
Grandview won eight games under coach Casey Walraven last year and went 12-1 in 2015. After finishing third District 6, the Zebras lost a heart breaker in the first-round of the playoffs to Howe. But with nine starters coming back on defense and some important skill players back on offense, Grandview enters 2017 as a team to watch.
QB Landon Moon (2,580 total yards, 35 TDs) will be even better as a junior and forms a dangerous duo in the backfield with RB Earnest Crownover III (2,101 total yards, 21 TDs), who brings physicality and leadership to the offense as a senior. WR/CB Kamron English (461 yards, 6 TDs, 51 tackles, 4 INTs) is a playmaker on both sides of the ball while LB David Villa (117 tackles), LB Dylan Moore (83 tackles, 6 sacks) and DL Damian Dominguez (52 tackles) are back to lead the defense. Grandview has all the pieces to improve and make a run this year.
Jefferson took a huge step forward last year after going 2-8 in 2015 as the Bulldogs won nine games for the first time since 2007 before falling to Howe in the second round of the playoffs. The future is bright, as the team did the majority of its damage last year with an extremely talented group of underclassmen. Another year of experience will likely payoff in a big way for coach Antwain Jimmerson’s squad.
The balanced offensive attack starts with the play of QB Trey Hodge (1,678 total yards, 20 TDs), who took over as the starter in the eighth game of the season as a sophomore. RB Tyron Williams (580 yards, 7 TDs) averaged more than 11 yards per carry as a sophomore and is back in the backfield, while WR T.Q. Jackson (1,099, 11 TDs) could have a huge year on the perimeter. LB Jordan Randle (165 tackles, 11 TFLs), DB Taylor Smith (154 tackles, 20 TFL), DB Dee Black (102 tackles, 8 TFL) and FS Dee Mitchell (97 tackles, 6 INTs) are among those back on defense. The talent is certainly there, and this could be the year the Bulldogs break through.
The Farmers had a huge year under coach Sammy Burnett last year, winning 11 games for the first time since the 2007 season while also advancing to the third round of the playoffs. Farmersville’s only issue in District 7 was the stacked Mineola team that went on to win the state championship, but Farmersville returns 13 starters and has a lot of incoming talent that should help the team compete at a high level again this season.
RB Cade Twyford (1,031 yards, 7 TDs) will see a bigger role in the backfield this season while QB Michael Badwill will likely take over for Chase Hacker. OT Jose Gomez and C Brandon Spruill are back to lead the offensive line while WR Robert Aqueros and WR Kobie Sheriff return to give Badwill weapons on the outside. Sheriff (3 INTs) is important in the secondary and on special teams, and FS Shawn Parker will be a leader on a defense that was the third most improved in Class 3A DI last year. With some key players gone from Mineola, the Farmers have a chance to compete for the district championship and advance deep in the playoffs again this year.
Three of the Yellowjackets’ four losses last year came by seven points or fewer, but Kemp returns 17 starters and will likely be one of the region’s top teams this season. District 6 is tough with Sunnyvale, Madison and Grandview, but the abundance of experience and talent should help the Yellowjackets take a step forward this season.
With 10 starters back on defense, Kemp will be much tougher on that side of the ball. DT Tyler Garrett and DT Alan Quezada were both all-district selections in the trenches while DB Jaise Bowie and S Montra Booker are back to anchor the secondary after big sophomore seasons. WR/LB Kane Johnson (600 yards, 8 TDs, 76 tackles) will be huge on both sides of the ball along with RB/DB Dezmond Tutson, while QB Cameron Clamon (2,927 total yards, 36 TDs) is back as a junior. RB Desmond Jones (760 yards, 9 TDs) joins Clamon in the backfield behind returning linemen in Kacey Cockrell and Noah Herring. The district race will be tough again, but the firepower is there on both sides of the ball for Kemp.
Brady Keane is a Contributing Writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.